Corporate Philanthropy in a Recession

Corporate Philanthropy in a RecessionA normal response to recession is to circle the wagons and conserve resources. In the face of an uncertain economic future, many corporations are doing this by naturally pulling back their philanthropy. But not all are responding this way. Some corporations are getting creative with their giving; others are actually increasing their philanthropy!

According to Rey San Pascual, Global Demand Manager at Abbott Diabetes Care, his company is telling employees:

…that in financially difficult times as these, it’s more important to give. They encourage participation in the annual giving, highlighting the matching funds the company contributes, offering daily prize raffles for those who have participated, and having bragging rights contests (in terms of % employee participation) among division groups, divisions, and against corporate.

And Rachel Hutchisson, Director of Corporate Relations & Philanthropy of Blackbaud says:

“From my perspective and that of the company, our corporate philanthropy is more important than ever. We see serious need in our community, especially when it comes to meeting basic human needs (i.e. food banks, shelters, etc.).”

Other businesses are taking a multi-pronged approach to philanthropy. Scott Egan, Loan Officer Orientation Leader at Advanced Financial Services, Inc., says his company is promoting philanthropy in a number of ways:

  • Continuing its tradition of giving back 20% of earnings to areas of need in their community and around the world.
  • Encouraging employees to take advantage of their matching gift program. AFS matches up to $2500 of contributions for each employee.
  • Providing employees volunteer time off to serve nonprofits. They even make a cash gift of $10/hour volunteered to that organization.
  • Sponsoring an annual, employee run community outreach day.
  • Even allowing a “jeans day” Fridays to raise money for areas of need. AFS matches the money raised on these Fridays.

While every nonprofit appreciates gifts of cash, there are other ways to give that can be equally valuable. Perhaps even more valuable. Cindy West, VP for INK, a public relations firm in Missouri, suggests:

Sometimes you can provide a service that the charity does not have access to. We will take on 1-2 clients per year and offer our media relations capabilities to raise awareness for the charity. In one instance, we raised a half-million dollars for the wounded. Far more than any check we could have written.

These companies know that philanthropic investments to hospitals, libraries, arts organizations, and social service groups help make our communities richer and stronger. And Greg Baldwin, President of says that promoting volunteering even raises employee morale.

In talking about a recent gift Rachel Hutchisson of Blackbaud, says:

… we just made a year-end emergency gift to a food bank. One of the reasons we chose the food bank specifically was that they are able to turn $20 into $400 worth of food (that’s a great ROI). We also felt they had the infrastructure in place to be able to quickly turn our gift into tangible help to those in need. This is an important point. We expect the number of requests we receive to continue to rise. And we expect, at the same time, to focus more on who can really do the most with the money. So being accountable, showing return, keeping expenses in check and having solid infrastructure matter.

In times like these, nonprofits are leaned on more than ever. They care for those most hurting and help them get back on their feet. That’s why companies are considering maintaining their giving right now. And even increasing their corporate giving.

Will your company be one?

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